UK Politics

Party Animals

Neil Kinnock described the Labour Party of the early and mid-80s as behaving like a javelin throwing team that had elected to receive. It seems some people have learned nothing.

We’re told there is “confusion” about when the Prime Minister intends to stand down. We’re told this by people who keep saying how “confused” they are that an exact departure date is yet to be named. We’re told that the speculation about when the PM plans to resign is creating chaos and distracting the party from the business of governing the country. We’re told this by an unholy alliance of Blair-haters and disloyal, fledgling MPs (many of whom owe their political careers to Blair and the Labour party he moulded) who cannot pass up a single opportunity to speculate endlessly about the Prime Minister’s departure date, thereby creating chaos and distracting the party from the business of governing. All that’s missing is a Bin Laden video in which the bearded fruitloop complains about today’s excessive airport security.

Tony Blair has been more candid about his plans for his political future than any MP I can think of. He has said he will resign before the next election, balancing his commitment to server the fullest of terms with the obvious need to ensure his successor has ample time to acquaint him/herself with the top job.

It is barely 15 months since the public conferred a 4/5 year electoral mandate on a Blair-led Labour Party. The sight of party members now agitating for Blair’s hastened departure arrogating the mantle of ‘worthy democrat only doing what is best for the country’ is repugnant and disingenuous beyond description. Moreover, if there are any Labour MPs who genuinely believe that the wider population – be they Blair fans or detractors – really cares whether it is May 07, Jul 07 or Sep 07 that the PM leaves office, then their reelection chances are threatened more by their own tendentious grips on reality than any perceived harm inflicted by a prime minister who has the temerity to see out more than 24 months of his term.

I am on record saying I think the Labour Party will struggle to retain a majority at the next election. I’m unconvinced by Brown as anything other than a dependable front bencher. He is Labour’s answer to John Major, which is a tad unfortunate, because Major is a question that needs no reply. Greatness thrust upon them, and all that. That said, I think Brown’s chances are greatly improved the later he takes office. I’m obviously not talking about a fortnight before any general election, but I’ve read no persuasive argument why he should be ensconced in number 10 much earlier than 12 months before the public go to the polls. Operating to such a timeline means it is more likely he will still be enjoying a ‘new guy’ dividend, whilst a year is plenty of time for him to disassociate himself from the less popular policies of the previous leader. Why any supporter of Brown would like to see their man in the hot seat any time before 2008 is beyond my comprehension. Thus, the folly of prematurely usurping the man who single-handedly transformed the Labour party from unelectable rabble to default party of government, is compounded.

So as the perpetual opposition fetishists circle, the only thing I can say is that as a politician, Glenda Jackson makes a great actress.